What is PCOS?
Women with PCOS typically have multiple cysts in their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of hormones called androgens.
Around 50% of women with the disorder are overweight or obese. Common symptoms include:
Women with PCOS, particularly when its symptoms are not managed, may also be at greater risk for:
Many women with PCOS find they’re able to manage their symptoms and reduce their risk of other medical concerns by controlling their diet and lifestyle choices.
Foods to add:
- high-fiber vegetables, such as broccoli
- lean protein, such as fish
- anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric and tomatoes
Great options for high-fiber foods include:
- cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- greens, including red leaf lettuce and arugula
- green and red peppers
- beans and lentils
- sweet potatoes
- winter squash
Lean protein sources like tofu, chicken, and fish don’t provide fiber but are very filling and a healthy dietary option for women with PCOS.
Foods that help reduce inflammation may also be beneficial. They include:
- almonds and walnuts
- olive oil
- fruits, such as blueberries and strawberries
- fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines
Foods to avoid:
- foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and muffins
- sugary snacks and drinks
- inflammatory foods, such as processed and red meats
Refined carbohydrates cause inflammation, exacerbate insulin resistance, and should be avoided or limited significantly. These include highly-processed foods, such as:
- white bread
- breakfast pastries
- sugary desserts
- white potatoes
- anything made with white flour
Pasta noodles that list semolina, durum flour, or durum wheat flour as their first ingredient are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. These should be removed from your diet.
Pastas made from bean or lentil flour instead of wheat flour are an excellent alternative.
Sugar is a carbohydrate and should be avoided wherever possible. When reading food labels, be sure to look for sugar’s various names. These include:
- high fructose corn syrup
Sugar can also lurk in the things you drink, such as soda and juice.
It’s a good idea to reduce or remove inflammation-causing foods, such as fries, margarine, and red or processed meats from your diet as well.
Many experts agree that at least 150 minutes per week of exercise is ideal.
Daily activity, low sugar intake, and a low-inflammation diet may also lead to weight loss. Women may experience improved ovulation with weight loss, so women who are obese or overweight and want to get pregnant may find physician-approved exercise especially important.